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World Cup success for Jordan Pickford will underline importance of Sunderland academy

Jordan Pickford of Sunderland in action during the Premier League match between Chelsea and Sunderland at Stamford Bridge on May 21, 2017 in London, England.

The former Sunderland goalkeeper travels to Russia with England this summer for the World Cup.

Jordan Pickford and Harry Maguire of England celebrate after the International friendly match between England and Costa Rica at Elland Road on June 7, 2018 in Leeds, England.

England travel to Russia this month where they will be looking to have a successful World Cup campaign, with a whole host of new and young players in the squad.

One of the players participating in his first International tournament for England is former Sunderland shot-stopper Jordan Pickford.

England manager Gareth Southgate gave the 24-year-old the number one jersey ahead of the biggest tournament in world football only a couple of days ago, signalling Southgate has every faith in the Sunderland academy graduate.

The Everton goalkeeper will be looking to impress on a huge stage in Russia, but his former club Sunderland will be keeping a close eye on the man who came through their ranks.

Jordan Pickford of Sunderland stretches to make a save during the Premier League match between Arsenal and Sunderland at Emirates Stadium on May 16, 2017 in London, England.

Pickford made 31 appearances in Sunderland's first team, but played at every level at the club from 2011 onwards -   once he had graduated from the Black Cats academy.

The youngster was a fan favourite on Wearside, mainly down to the huge part he played in Sunderland's Premier League survival back in the 2015/16 season.

Pickford played over 3000 minutes in Sunderland's survival campaign and then followed it up with another impressive season one year later - but made the move to Everton for £30m after being at Sunderland since a child (The Guardian).

An impressive display from Pickford at the World Cup would certainly boost the credibility of the Wearside academy set-up, which has been one of the most successful in the country after producing a number of excellent players - only recently another academy graduate in Jordan Henderson captained his side Liverpool in the Champions League final against European giants Real Madrid. Like Pickford, the 27-year-old was born in Sunderland and came through the academy ranks, but left for Liverpool the year Pickford became an academy graduate in 2011.

Henderson will also feature in this month's World Cup alongside Pickford, giving Sunderland fans an immense sense of pride whilst watching their country pursue their first World Cup since 1966.

Jordan Henderson of Liverpool walks past the UEFA Champions League trophy following the UEFA Champions League Final between Real Madrid and Liverpool at NSC Olimpiyskiy Stadium on May 26,...

Both men will be closely watched by Sunderland fans, but Pickford in particular will be attracting close attention as the younger of the pair.

There is little doubt that Sunderland's academy credibility is already very much respected in the football world, however, if Pickford can ensure he has a good campaign on Russian turf - this will further underline just how good the Black Cats academy brand is.

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